Chemical Control

I am a Dom.  Sometimes I don’t act very Dom-like though, and for the past several months, I’ve been out of control and very rarely Dominant.

The essence of Dominance is Control – control of yourself, control of your environment, control of the scene, control of your submissive.  That is the order and hierarchy that the world should adhere to from the perspective of the Dom in me.  Rant’s rules, distilled to the control elements…

But lately, I have NOT been the one in control – the demons in my mind have been controlling me and therefore everything else in that chain – including my saint of a poor submissive girlfriend.  The fact that she stayed with me through all of this is something for which I shall always be grateful and never fully understand.

But let’s back up a bit…

I live in the United States.  California, to be exact, and the San Francisco Bay Area – which is more tolerant than other places in this country, but we still lag behind in a few areas and one of those is that there is still a stigma attached to mental disorder.  People still seem to think that if you are diagnosed as bipolar or depressed or with general anxiety disorder that there is something fundamentally wrong with you and, perhaps more insidiously, that there is something dangerous about you.

To a certain extent these fears have a basis in reality… as I have personally come to learn in the past several months. But more importantly, these sorts of preconceived notions can affect how one perceives such things, even when one has personal experience.

I have battled depression, and recently, anxiety as well.

I knew the demons of depression, and that was part of the problem with this most recent bout of anxiety.  Anxiety and depression look and feel very different, and yet they can cause a lot of the same sorts of symptoms and problems.

When I was controlled by depression, I wanted to kill myself.  I was overwhelmed with the world and I just couldn’t see any way past the horrible realization that everyone I loved would be better off without me dragging them down.  I was despondent and in pain and sometimes even just breathing seemed to be too much effort.  I wanted out and I could see no other way.

Fortunately for me, I was strong enough to recognize that suicide is ultimately an extremely selfish act, and I chose not to be so selfish and got help.  I pulled out of my depression and I thought that I was cured.

I’ve always been neurologically atypical, but it never even occurred to me that I was suffering from anxiety.  I was stressed out and I couldn’t sleep and I was irritable and short to anger and couldn’t concentrate and had all of the other hallmarks of severe general anxiety disorder, but I was sure that I was “just a little stressed” or that once the current crisis abated that things would get back to normal in short order.

But that was masking the problem.  The current crisis always gave way to the next.  And that’s just how life is.  Life is not easy, and if you let every issue balloon out to the point of crisis, you will be fire-fighting all of the time.  There is no shortage of crises to be found anywhere nowadays.

I started fighting with my girlfriend – daily.  We fought about everything and nothing at all.  We spiraled into the same patterns, over and over again.

But never did it even occur to me that I was the problem.

Even that statement isn’t really fair – the problem wasn’t me, the problem was that I was unable to cope with the level of anxiety that I had in my life.   Once again, I was overwhelmed, but this time instead of forcing that inward and causing myself to be depressed, I pushed it out into the world around me, and I lashed out at the people I loved.  I shut out all emotions and I pushed everything and everyone away.

My girlfriend tried to get me to get help.  And I even went along with it, but I didn’t try very hard.  I saw a doctor and I told him what was going on in the broadest of terms and when he told me that I just needed to deal with it, I took that in stride and just figured that I was facing daily stress like we all do and that better time management or organization would help me.

But no amount of organization or time management can fix a broken mind.

As the anxiety got worse, my symptoms did as well.

I got delusional.

I stopped sleeping almost entirely.

I lost the ability to concentrate, even for minutes at a time.  If not for the reputation that I have developed at work, I would have been fired several times over for being behind in my duties or just plain failing to get things done, and the more I failed to get done, or the more behind I would get, the more anxious I would become.

I felt like I was failing at everything.

I can recall many conversations with my therapist or my girlfriend where I said, “I’m failing at everything,” but it was never enough to clue me into the real problem.

My friends and even my family would tell me that I needed to get help, but I was sure that I knew better.

“I know what depression feels like, and this is not that.” – I would tell them.  And I was right, but I was completely missing the point, it wasn’t depression that was sidelining me, it was something else entirely.

Of course, it took things getting really horrible before I actually took the steps that ameliorated the problem.  My body started objecting in the most amazing ways…

My blood pressure went off the charts…  I’d started dropping a lot of weight.  I was sweating like crazy – so much that even the skin on my palms was beginning to peel…  but even that was not enough.  I didn’t go back to a psychiatrist until I had a panic attack.

I was driving on surface streets and had a panic attack and failed to move when the light changed.  People in cars around me honked and leaned out their windows to yell at me and flip me off and I still couldn’t move.

Eventually I was able to begin breathing again and moved my car.  I got home and resolved right away that I needed chemical help for my anxiety.

I found a new doctor (who is pretty amazing, actually) and started a new treatment program and now, three weeks in, I am in control of myself once again.

The difference is as stark as day and night.

Just a few weeks ago, I doubt very much that I could have managed even to sit still long enough to read a blog post of this length, much less actually write it.

The last time I was taking psychoactive pharmaceuticals, I was worried that I was going to be stuck on them for the rest of my life.

I wasn’t.

I may be on the new meds that I am taking now for years to come, but I don’t care one whit…. I am in control again, and it feels good.

Back at the helm.

I am Rant.

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead!

Well, not really.  First of all, she’s not a witch and secondly, her health is fine, but I’m leaving my horrible job and my horrible boss and moving on to a different startup that is founded and run by people that I know and respect.  It’s a massively good thing and I feel like yelling something upbeat and, “Ding dong the witch is dead!” feels about right.

The past several months have been difficult for me.  The only time that I have made for my blog is to answer the direct questions of readers who email me directly.  I need to do better than that, and now that I feel like I have a little more mental and emotional capacity, I plan to do just that.

I’m skipping Nanowrimo this year, and because I’m starting a new job and there are other life changes in the works that require my attention, I’m probably not going to really make any major commitments to writing or anything else in the short term, but this is massively good news for me and everyone in my life.

I’m beginning yet another new chapter – and this one feels really good.   New places, new expectations, and a chance to start again where I’ve not been ‘outed’ and can be seen for the merit of what I know and do instead of what I do in my private life.

Catching up

It has, once again, been a horribly long time since my last post. Part of the reason for that is simply that I’ve been letting life get in the way again, but part of it is because I have been struggling with how to write this next post, what to include, how much to reveal about myself in it, and also just a certain amount of time waiting to see what would happen.

Shortly after my last post, I was outed at work as kinky by a coworker, which is something that I never expected to happen, or that if it did happen, that it would be something of a non-event.

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I work in the tech sector. The former is a well known kink haven and the latter is known to be accepting of all sorts of personality quirks.

So, when there was any reaction at all to my lifestyle choices, I was a bit surprised.

I think that was part of the problem – everyone else was surprised as well – and if there is something that people can almost universally be expected to react poorly to, it is surprises that change fundamental assumptions that we make about some person, place, or thing. I should have expected this and prepared for it a bit better. Perhaps I should not have kept things so compartmentalized in my life, but with a few exceptions, I don’t socialize with my coworkers and even when I do, they tend to fall into the category of ‘vanilla friends’ which makes them a bit easier to hold at arm’s length.

So.. when they found out that I have a ‘secret life’… well… I suddenly became a great deal more interesting.

My role is kind of boring. I’m one of the most senior engineers on my team. I’m a mentor and a role model in some ways. I’m not a manager (though I was once.. it turns out that I am a wonderful leader but a terrible manager) but I am very visible and deal with a lot of different people in my role. It’s been interesting to see how people reacted to the news.

My shrew of a boss either still does not know or is refusing to acknowledge the news. If it is the latter, then she is actually probably a better boss than I give her credit for, but the problem is that I’m pretty sure that she is just so clueless and uninformed that she still doesn’t know and whatever consequences are coming from that vector are still waiting in the wings.

But the more interesting reactions are the ones that I am getting from my peers and from the other cross-functional people that I deal with regularly.

I’ve had some interesting questions posed by a few of the more adventurous of my coworkers, but really nothing too extreme. I wasn’t expecting anyone to say anything though, so that’s an interesting bit of information.

The really surprising thing though is the change in the way that people treat me. It’s a subtle thing, and I have to be very careful when I evaluate such things because my own perception can definitely distort things, but there have been some distinct changes in the way that certain individuals interact with me. Some avoid me more, some act like they know a secret about me and that we’re closer as a result (even though I didn’t divulge the secret myself,) and some act very nervous around me now, like they expect me to pull out a flogger and start wailing on them any minute.

I should have been more careful. I had a headshot as my profile photo on Fetlife. That was how they found me. Someone was trolling Fetlife and saw my picture and went apeshit.

Of course, this means that the person who found me out has to have a Fetlife account as well. I somewhat naively thought that would be some protection – after all, anyone who saw my photo on Fetlife would have to have an account themselves, and would presumably be somewhat discreet as a result, but alas, the world is a bit more complex than such naive assumptions. It turns out that no one cares how I was found out, only that I was… I should have predicted that.

Ultimately, I still don’t know the full impact of the news on my career and work relationships – some of this is still evolving. I’m rarely the object of discrimination, so this has been a new experience for me in some ways. I’ll be sure to post a follow up in a couple of months when the full impact of things is more clear to me, but one thing is absolutely certain. I’m never more sure of my privilege in being born a white male in America as I am now.

Yours in thought,

Rant.

As a postscript and a side-note… I’ve received a few emails lately asking why I don’t allow comments on my posts.   I actually do, and always have, but I set things such that posts older than two weeks old could not be commented on in an effort to avoid necroposting, but since some of my posts are being referenced on other sites now and at the request of those who emailed me, I’ve removed that restriction and you should be able to comment on any post I’ve written.

Posts are still moderated and go through a spam filter, but once you have a post approved, subsequent posts should automatically be approved for you.  Please do not abuse this .

An imaginary conversation with a new submissive

Kneel for me. Look into my eyes and try to maintain eye contact for as long as you can. Give me your full attention. Do not speak until I am finished talking. I will let you know when that is.

People are not rational beings. Trust is almost always brittle and ephemeral. This process will be disorienting and frightening for you, but even before we begin, you should know that I am terrified.

Most people cannot do the things that I am going to ask you to do. Most people will break under this sort of stress, and if you break I will be there to help pick up the pieces, but we will go slowly… more slowly than even I think we need to, because if _we_ break, that will be the end of us.

But I trust you, and I trust us. And we are going to forge something unbreakable with that trust.

As we start this, you are going to think that I’m joking. The further along we get, the more doubts you will have – about whether or not I’m joking, about whether or not you can do this, whether or not you really want to do this. You will start to believe that maybe I’m crazy, or that maybe you are. You will question the motivation that brought you to this conclusion from the very beginning. Everything will feel unnatural at first, but I promise you that eventually it will seem second nature.

You are not you anymore. Not when you wear my collar. You are an extension of Me. You exist purely to reinforce my Will and Serve my needs. You will begin to learn the things that I like, not that I merely require. You will begin to anticipate my desires as well as my needs and you will feel incomplete while you know that there is anything that I am missing. The only way to feel complete again is to satisfy those needs and desires, and you will do anything in your power to be complete again.

I’m going to tell you to look into my eyes and tell me that you exist only to please me. You are going to feel silly when you do. You won’t believe it at first. You will hold back a kernel of yourself, a part of your own being, of something that is not Me. You will say the words, and you will want to mean them, but you won’t. Not at first.

I’m going to tell you to look up into my eyes and tell me that you exist only to please me. You are going to bear false witness at first. You will do as I command, but you will withhold a part of yourself. You will think to yourself, “I am choosing to do this. I want to forget myself, to let myself become this vessel for him. I want to stop being myself for a time.” But you won’t quite succeed. Not at first. Because you will have to think about it. Because you will feel insecure. You will feel like you’re acting. You will feel juvenile, pretending, silly. But you will be stepping closer towards being Mine. And once you are Mine, you will be finally Free.

You are not you anymore. Not when you wear my collar. There is one inside of you who has always known that you wanted this. You have been searching for the one who sees this need within you and who can foster it and cherish it and shape it, because you don’t have the knowledge or strength to shape it on your own. There is one inside of you who feels like she is being forced to confront a life that she does not want. You move through life uncertain of your place within it. You know that you belong somewhere, but you haven’t ever really found it.

I can show it to you.

When you wear my collar you are giving yourself to me. Completely. You are not you anymore. You are an extension of my Will and your only purpose will be to Serve my needs and desires – even those that I am not consciously aware of myself. Eventually you will know what I want and need before I do, and you will be there already, ready to provide.

In exchange for this, I will take your burdens. You will be Free. Your only purpose will be to Serve me and you can leave all of the rest of the uncertainty and doubt behind.

While you wear my collar, the rest of the world exists at the periphery, but it is unimportant. You, for as much as you connect to the world, cease to exist and become subsumed within my Will. You can leave doubt and uncertainty behind because they no longer matter. You have only one purpose and you are the very embodiment of that goal. Your mind, your body, your actions – they all become an extension of something outside of yourself. They all become a part of Me.

I will hold you within my Will and keep the world at bay. I will protect your essence and hold it for you so that when you are ready to take up the mantle again, it will be waiting for you, but for this moment, for right now, those things cannot touch you.

I will take your body and I will use it to satisfy my needs and desires. I will protect it and cherish it as I force it to conform to my desire. I will use it to control your mind. I will use it to mold the being inside of you that you give to me. I will hurt it, because positive punishment is faster and more effective at calling attention to undesirable behavior than other methods, and you seek to become the least you can as quickly as possible. You want to vanish within my Will and the fastest, surest way to do that is to call direct, immediate, and shocking attention to anything that is contrary to that goal.

I will hurt you, but I will keep you safe.

I will hurt you, but I will never injure you.

I will flay apart the pieces around the kernel within you that you give to me. I will burn away the pieces that don’t belong. I will leave behind the strength of nature itself. I will find the seed and I will nurture it until the uneasiness is gone, until the part that you held back can’t be seen separately any longer, until you are Free from the disorientation and feelings of silliness or the idea that you’re playing a role. I will break apart the bindings of the world upon this part of you and take it for myself.

You will remain, and the world around you will call upon you as it always has, but for a time, for a moment here and there, I will pull a deeper part of you free from that existence and I will hold it apart from reality, within my own Will.

You can always go back, but while you are Mine, I can show you the freedom that you always knew was hiding from you somewhere.

Okay. I’m done speaking now. Are you ready to begin?

Doms are people too

I have been putting this post off for a very long time.  Over the course of the couple years that I’ve had this blog, I have received a number of emails from submissives who want to know if a particular pattern of behavior on the part of their chosen Dominants is abusive or if they have done something wrong or something similar to those lines.  I’ve seen it several times, in slightly different permutations, from several different sources, so I want to make it clear that I’m not singling out any particular email that I may have received recently as the source of this piece.

The question is usually of this form:

“I <used my safeword / cried / didn’t want to do something> and now my Dom is acting cold and distant with me.  Did I do something wrong, or is he being abusive?”

The last portion of the question there is sometimes missing, or slightly perturbed, as in “was he abusing me all along and I just now realize it?” etc…

I almost never have enough information from the email that poses this question to make any sort of determination along those lines, but I do always try to be helpful.

One thing that I think a lot of people miss is that D/s relationships are still relationships and relationships are hard.  Dominants are people too, with our own problems, emotional baggage, and deep histories which sometimes include shame and remorse or things that we just wish we’d had the presence of mind to handle differently at the time.

I don’t have a panacea here.  Some of these situations may be actual abuse.  There is certainly a period of NRE that can mask things that are truly bad, but aside from that, if you normally have a communicative relationship where you can talk about things and express your desire to each other, then incidents like this may just be part and parcel of relationships, though they manifest themselves in strange ways in this particular context.

To offer any advice in this context is a bit controversial, if not entirely ill advised… but this is a persistent question I get, so there is clearly a need for information that is not otherwise being met and I will do my best to address the issue.

The key thing to remember here is that a D/s relationship is still a relationship, and as with all relationships, be they romantic, professional, familial, or something that falls outside of all of those buckets, communication is the most important thing into which you can invest time and energy.

How can you tell if it’s really abuse?  That’s not really an easy thing, but generally if you’re talking about a single incident in what is otherwise a good relationship, I would give your partner the benefit of the doubt – he may just be having a bad day, or you may have hit one of his triggers.  However, if something that makes you uncomfortable repeats, there may be an issue, and this is where you may have to force the point and really talk about it.  Even if it is just a single incident, you need to talk about it, but a pattern of behavior is almost always a deeper issue than a single incident.

If you don’t have the sort of relationship where you can talk about these things, then you have deeper problems.  Aftercare is typically the place where you would talk about these things.  Don’t wait weeks or even days to talk about something that went wrong – talk about it right after it happens, find out where the problem came from, let him know that there is a problem (because he might not even realize it,) and do something to either correct or avoid it for the next time.

I fear that I’ve rambled a bit in this post… the point that I’m trying to get across is that Doms are people too – we have bad days, we have emotional triggers, and sometimes something will happen that causes us to have an abnormal reaction.  There have been times when I’ve hit a trigger of my own that causes me to emotionally retreat without even realizing it.  Usually I can come back around and see things for what they are if I’m given enough time, but in almost all of those cases, a few words or questions from my sub would have brought me there a lot more quickly.

A single bad experience may be bad enough to chuck out the whole affair, but probably isn’t unless things aren’t that good to begin with.  A pattern of bad behavior though – that’s something else, and that’s something that you should not continually put up with.

 

Just what the heck is protocol anyway?

I have been accused of being an ‘old-school high protocol Dom’ a few times in my life.

I’m not sure that the statement is entirely accurate, but I suspect that there may be two reasons why this is being applied to me.

1) No one really knows what ‘protocol’ means anymore
2) Anyone who expresses any sort of structure as a part of the BDSM relationship seems to be getting classified this way lately.

So, let’s begin by addressing the first part of this.

What the heck is ‘protocol’ anyway?

It’s a three syllable word that basically means ‘rules.’

People think that because I use contracts and limits lists that I’m a ‘high protocol’ Dom.  And while there is no definitively correct answer for what ‘high protocol’ means, I tend to think of the emphasis on the ‘high’ in that phrase as indicating an emphasis on enforcement.

I don’t believe that I’ve ever seen the label of ‘low protocol’ or even ‘ordinary protocol’ applied to anyone.  It seems that within the context of the BDSM world, the two words are inextricably linked.  If you practice ‘protocol’ at all, you are automatically a practitioner of ‘high protocol.’

I’m fairly certain that I actually do NOT fit that definition.

Yes, I set rules.  In some of the contracts that I’ve held in the past, these rules can be rather strict, and failure to follow them can be met with some pretty significant consequences, but whereas I exerted a singular level of control in my earlier days, I haven’t the time or inclination to attempt such things anymore.  I don’t think I’ve necessarily grown softer – because when I decide to correct something, I can still be pretty rough, but my need to be in absolute control has waned as I’ve picked partners that are more capable and have a greater internal strength themselves.

This is not to say that I don’t invoke protocol in-scene, or even just in that nebulous ‘in the bedroom’ space.  Often I will bark commands in the midst of sex or play, and I fully expect them to be adhered to.

Bondage with ropes or straps is incredibly effective, sexy as hell, and sometimes exactly what I want or need, but sometimes I don’t have ropes with me, or I just don’t want to go through the time and effort to tie them properly – and I’m enough of a safety nut that I’d never half-ass that job.  So, I might give instruction like, “do not move except when I move you,” or “leave your arms in this position,” or even, “you can fight me on this, but if you do, I’ll hurt you.”

And you know what? The words in those cases can be even more effective than physical restraints and even sexier in the proper context.

Does this make me a ‘high protocol’ Dom?  I don’t think so.

When I used to require my submissive to walk three paces behind me, not to make eye contact, and to speak only to or through me.. that was ‘high protocol.’

And to be honest, while there is some pleasure to be derived in the novelty of it, and while it certainly does appeal to the control freak in me to have complete control over another person’s words and actions if not her thoughts, it’s exhausting to be so much in control for more than a short span of time.

Hell, I find it difficult to remain in control of just my own self from time to time.  To have to be in control of someone else, to monitor her every action and to punish or reward them as appropriate.  It’s just not something that I have time for anymore.

Protocol has its place.  It’s a wonderful thing when used properly, but it’s often misunderstood to mean something far greater than it needs to be.  You can claim to be introducing ‘protocol’ into your relationship by doing something as what I’ve described above.  Give your sub a rule to follow, and then follow up and make sure that she understands and obeys.

Isn’t that what D/s is all about anyway?

Not dead. Yet…

I’m not dead, yet…

It’s been a shamefully long time since I’ve posted here.  I apologize.

I’m not dead.  I’ve not forgotten this blog.  I’ve not changed my lifestyle – at least not intentionally.  I’ve missed a few emails, and I’ve not been keeping up my normal standard of responses for those that I’ve actually managed to reply to over the past couple of months.

Life gets in the way sometimes, but I’ve let life run over me for long enough and it’s time to start pushing back again.

It’s time to start writing again.  I’ve kept up with reading.  In fact, I’ve read more than 30 books so far this year, and it’s only mid-March.  If I were to devote even just a portion of the time I spend reading, watching TV, or playing video games to writing, I’d easily have 50 more blog entries by now if not a more tangible piece of writing.

Writing is catharsis for me, but I definitely have not spent enough time doing it lately.

In some ways, I feel a bit like a 12-stepper… I keep falling off of the wagon and I keep recommitting myself.  I feel better about it each time, and I stick with it for awhile, but then life gets in the way again.

I’m going to begin a new experiment.

I have nearly a dozen half-finished blog entries on my google drive.  With two notable exceptions, I generally don’t post anything until I’ve reviewed it, edited it, re-reviewed it, and generally feel like it’s both well written and of a reasonable length.  I’ve always been afraid of making too small entries – feeling like people deserve a good chunk of content when they give me their eyeballs for a few minutes.  And in truth, even when writing short pieces like this one, it takes me about ten times as long to write, read, edit, and publish than it does for you to read it.  But I’m going to start trying to be a bit less of a perfectionist.  I’m going to publish more pieces, even if I don’t feel like they’re perfect, and even if I feel like they’re too short or perhaps off topic.

I started this blog as a place to rant about the things that I saw going wrong in my own local BDSM community.  I gave the address to one person and expected my audience to grow to maybe 10 or 20 over time.  I never expected what actually happened, and I didn’t properly set my own expectations.

Eventually this became a place of instruction, and while I enjoyed that for a time, it was too impersonal, too clinical, and too removed from my own feelings on the matter to be compelling.  And then I started to write more personal stories, and that is when I started to find everything a bit overwhelming.  I don’t think even I realized it until now.

Catharsis is difficult to find when the prospect of engaging in your cathartic activity is so daunting, and so I basically quit.

But I’m not really a quitter… and the fact that I haven’t been updating the blog has always stuck in the back of my craw like a … stuck in the back of your craw thing…

So – once more with feeling – I’m back.

You can expect more updates, but they might not be the solid blocks of BDSM University goodness that you’re used to, nor the long winded personal diatribes, but perhaps something more manageable and sustainable.

I’m Rant, I’ve been here all along and I’m not going anywhere, even if I might have been hiding for awhile.

Dividends

Being nice to everyone all of the time is not easy.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that it’s not possible.  I’ve made a conscious effort to be nice to the people that I have the most troubles with, and that’s a bit easier – I’m inclined to be an asshole when I see/hear/interact with these people, and I can use that inclination as a trigger to force myself to act nice.

It’s much more difficult to remember to always be nice to those that I actually like though.

It’s a bit of a paradox, true.  I have reversed my actions, and I’m being nice to people that I dislike 100% of the time, but to those that I actually care about, my actions have been largely unchanged – perhaps even worse for the effort required to be nice to those for whom I carry disdain.

I’m making the effort though.  Most of my interactions are with my family – within which I include my girlfriend – and my coworkers.  Some of my coworkers are friends – some of them I like, but because I see them less frequently, it’s easier to remain nice to them.  It’s really my family, especially my girlfriend, that is suffering from this.

I’ve been doing better this week than I was last week, and I will continue to do better and better as the new forms of action become more commonplace for me, and watching that transformation take place in myself is fascinating.

The dividends are slow in coming though.

My boss is every bit as bad as she has ever been.  If anything, she is still greedily consuming my goodwill and extra effort for her own selfish ends.  She has gone so far as to personally take credit for my work in a couple of cases, which should make me incensed, but I’m able stand apart and realize that this will eventually be her undoing.  Eventually, someone is going to ask her to explain all of this amazing work that she is managing to turn out, and she won’t be able to because she did none of it herself, and does not even understand what it is that I did.  So, her options at that point will either be to give me the credit I really deserve in a rather public assignation, or to bury herself deeper in lies that will eventually end up exposing her.

I suppose I’m giving her all the figurative rope that she can ask for, and she’s tying the noose herself…

But there are some areas of my life that are being improved by this new strategy.

While I’m not as successful as I would like to be in employing these tactics at home, I can think of a couple of recent interactions where I forced myself to say something when I would have normally brooded in silence.  The immediate and short term discomfort that this causes is generally more than offset by the long term gains, but those can sometimes be difficult to foresee.

And yet, I’m often subtly reminded of the improvements that this can bring about in my interactions with strangers…

Today, I decided that I needed to spend some more time at my desk.  I’ve been out of the office a lot lately, and while I am often more productive when I’m not in the office, there is still something of a stigma attached to not be Butt In Seat with middle management.  So – I walked over to Subway to get a sandwich for lunch and with the intent of eating it at my desk.

I’m a bit of a nerd, in case this wasn’t clear by now.  It’s a pet peeve of mine when restaurants charge you tax on transactions that are not legally taxable.  It’s a sneaky practice and it’s illegal and it occasionally makes me angry.  Usually their accounts payable people are smart enough to figure out the discrepancies before they submit their taxes to the state, so it amounts to an extra bonus for the franchise owner – stolen from people who are not awake enough to notice or who don’t know they’re being taken advantage of.

So, back to Subway.  They make sandwiches.  Sometimes they toast them, but I don’t usually like my sandwiches toasted, so I always ask them not to.  The law states that you cannot charge sales tax, eat-in tax, or any other kind of tax on fresh food, prepared without heat, for consumption off of the premises.  I ordered the daily deal sandwich.  It was advertised as $6.00.  I did not get it toasted, and I indicated that I wanted my sandwich, and only the sandwich – no meal deal – to go.

The clerk asked me for $6.52.

Two weeks ago, I would have been belligerent and asked to speak to the manager right away, probably leveled some cold, hard anger at him or her and refused to pay the $0.52 surcharge that was illegally levied at me.

But I didn’t.

I consciously put on my best smile (which isn’t all that great, actually.. I have Resting Bitch Face in spades.. in fact, as a younger man I used to wear glasses with no prescription to the lenses merely to soften the appearance of my face when dealing with people) and I turned it to her in the highest smile power wattage I could manage and said, “I’m sorry, miss, but I believe that you may have made a mistake.  I ordered the daily deal and my transaction should be exactly $6,” just as I handed her a five dollar bill and a single.

She was not quite on the same page that I was with regards to the ideals of being nice to people.

I understand it.  She works in retail with lines of hungry people and was probably suffering from low blood sugar herself, seeing as how this was near the end of the lunch rush, and she probably had to delay her own lunch to take care of all of ours.

Whatever her reasons, her response to me was a bit angry, and while I am paraphrasing, I bet you can get the idea.  “No, dipstick, the sandwich is on special but you still have to pay tax, and you owe me $0.52 or you can’t have your frakking sandwich.”

Apparently she raised her voice enough when she responded to me to attract the attention of the manager, because she started walking towards us as I began my response.

“Gosh, okay… well, this is certainly not worth fighting over and there are others in line here who would probably like to pay for their own sandwiches and get on with their day, but I do feel compelled to inform you that you are breaking the law.  I ordered a sandwich which was not toasted and which I am going to consume off site, so you are not obligated to or allowed to charge me for any tax.”  And as I said this, I handed her another single.

“I didn’t toast it,” was her clipped response as she angrily grabbed at the bill that I was proffering.

“Pardon me?” was my super-eloquent reply, because I didn’t really understand why she was telling me that she didn’t toast my sandwich.  I knew it wasn’t toasted.  I ordered it un-toasted, and I watched the process closely.  In retrospect, I think that she just didn’t understand me and was responding to the one thing that she did understand.

“I said that I didn’t frakking toast your frakking sandwich!”

And then her manager tapped her on the shoulder and told her to go to the back.  The manager gave me back my money, apologized for the behavior of her employee, and stated that I was, of course, correct, and that the cost of my sandwich should have been exactly $6, but that I should take my money and the sandwich with her apologies and hopes that I would return on another occasion.

So I did.

I feel bad for the clerk.  She’s probably going to be dressed down pretty badly, assuming that she gets to keep her job, and it was certainly never my intention that anyone get reprimanded or fired.

If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t say anything at all.  I’d just forfeit the $0.52 and try to maintain harmony as much as possible.  I certainly don’t need the $0.52.  I waste money in other ways that I’m sure drive people around me insane.  To make such a big deal over less than a buck seems like a real travesty, but it’s not the money that was the issue.

The whole unfortunate event occurred because I was raised to be a Libertarian.  I’m not now, and I don’t really identify with that former version of myself in any way, but there was a time when the government represented the biggest obstacle in my life, and the idea of paying a tax that they were not entitled to collect still sticks in my craw sometimes.

With the physical pain and sleep deprivation and emotional agony that I’ve been going through lately, it’s old vestigial instincts like that one that end up derailing my bliss, and it almost happened again, but I avoided it, and I even got a free lunch out of the deal.

But that clerk certainly did not.

I suspect that she was not informed of the distinction between times when one may and when one may not charge tax, so she was probably justified in feeling upset that I was telling her how to do her job, but she did not have to react with the bile that she did, in the very same way that I would be most likely to do myself, if I were in her shoes.

Likewise, if I’d taken my usual approach, I might have been able to get the $0.52 refunded, but I would have ended up in a foul mood and fouling the mood of at least two other people in the process.

It’s perhaps only stepwise progress, but I’ll take it, and hold on to it as evidence that I’m not completely on the wrong path.

I have to be vigilant.  Everything there is will try to steer me back to the old, familiar, and comfortably miserable path that I’ve been on and off of throughout my entire life.

The dividends are here, they’re just hard to see sometimes, and sometimes there is a price to be paid.

I’ll gladly pay the price to be happy when I can though.

Happiness makes everything better.

Enemies

“I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.”  — Abraham Lincoln, sort of…

Abraham Lincoln actually did say that – but it’s a bit out of context.  He was responding to a woman who posited that he was not being hard enough on the newly conquered South.  She made the assertion that he should not be attempting to rebuild the South or to refer to southerners as he had – as men who were blinded by circumstance.  He was a learned man – though an autodidact – and he paraphrased the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund.  What Lincoln said in response to her query was, “Why madam, do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”

And so he did.

I’m an extremely fortunate man.  I’ve said this before, and I say it often enough that I would not blame you for thinking that I am trying to convince myself of the truth of the statement through repetition, but it is true.

I’ve been stressed out, tired, grumpy, and unhappy lately.  When this happens to me, my desire is to turtle.  I want to shut out the rest of the world and just sort of lick my wounds until I feel ready to face reality again.  Of course, this manifests itself in even further enhanced grumpiness as every little incursion into my world even from those that I love is an invasion into my need for isolation.  I snap at my kids; I snap at my girlfriend; I snap at my colleagues.

I’ve been doing this all week, since I got back from my trip to the Middle East.

At first I could blame jet lag.  It was almost certainly a factor.  I wasn’t eating, my sleep was off, and I was just generally miserable.  But I think it goes deeper than that…

Everything in my life right now is in flux.  I just settled my accident case – though not satisfactorily – this is one instance where being a Caucasian male definitely works against me.  My project at work is being transferred away, and I’ve been wanting to find a new job for quite some time.

My back was aggravated by the air travel – I can’t sit for long periods of time without it causing my back problems – but it brought one thing into sharp focus.. job stress is FAR more harmful to my health and my back issues than even sitting on a plane in coach for 20 hours.

Job stress is killing me – possibly literally.

I like to think of myself as being reasonably grounded, as being Zen in places where others cannot be.  I like to try to react unemotionally but with empathy, or at least compassion.  I try to be rational in all things, and yet, in this instance, I am most un-rational.

I seem to have an expiration date when jobs are involved.   For the first six months or so in any new job, I am in love all over again.  Even if I’m doing something very similar, I have many new things to learn, new people to meet, new technologies to play with, and new experiences of nearly every type.  Eventually the newness wears off and I develop confident competence – I become an expert and I begin to take on leadership roles, and that works for another year or two.  I invariably come across and begin to resent those that are either not competent or who lack the ethic that I bring to task.  At first I silently compensate for these low performers, but eventually I begin to resent them, and that’s when the downward spiral begins.

In my current job, I’ve been spiraling for a bit more than a year now.  For awhile I was able to achieve some sort of emotional distance, but eventually even this failed me and I find myself where I am now, angry and feeling exploited.  I began to stop compensating for the lack of ability in my peers and rather than reacting as I expect, those further up the corporate totem pole bring their ire to me directly – the things that I was doing to compensate for the lack of ability or focus in others are no longer getting done, and despite the fact that these things were never my responsibility, the fact that I am now no longer doing them becomes my fault and my shortcoming.

The injustice of this only serves to further increase my anger and unhappiness.

And now, recent market changes have made it economically irresponsible for me to leave my job and seek employment elsewhere, so, as you might imagine, I’ve been feeling a bit trapped.

And what do I do when I feel trapped?

I pull in and react to the rest of the world with anger and resentment.

I could rail at the gods.  I could pull back and say to myself and the rest of the universe, “this is unfair! Why me?!”   I could blame others – the colleagues that I have been carrying, the management who is laying the blame at my feet, the Universe itself for being a cold, uncaring place.  I could lament my misfortune and no one would blame me for it.  My friends would support me, “you’re right, that’s unfair!  You deserve better.”  And I would be grateful for their support.

But that’s not the way out of this.

It’s in my nature to take charge of things.  It’s in my nature to automatically pitch in and take over when things are faltering.  It’s part of who I am to sacrifice my own time or my own desires in order to bring the team across the line.  And I do it, over and over again.  And I’m unlikely to stop – and even if I did, that wouldn’t make me happy.

The problem is that I can’t do it forever.  Not without developing resentment.  This is normal.  This is not a violation of Zen principles – to deny my own feelings would be turning a blind eye to the most important thing in my universe – Me.  And while martyrs get nice things written about them more often than not, martyrs also tend to die miserable deaths, and I’m not quite ready to lay down and die yet, so I need to take care of me.

So, how do I get out of this, you ask?

I turn my enemies into friends.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I abhor my boss.  She’s incompetent, lazy, bigoted, and just plain mean at times.  She is not a leader, and in my opinion, does not deserve her position.  She is barely capable of holding on to it, and if I were willing to sacrifice my own position, I could certainly bring her down.  But I won’t do that.

I’m going to make her into my best friend.

I am going to do everything in my power to force her to succeed where she is floundering now.

I am going to change my world.

Now, while this is something of a personal epiphany that I’ve had, and while I’m arrogant enough to think that it might be worthy of reading, it’s really not got anything to do with the focus of this blog, which is BDSM specific – for the most part.

So, to bring things back into focus, I’ll extrapolate from D/s philosophy and put this into terms that almost make sense in that context.

I’ve been beating my head against a brick wall by trying to Dominate my boss and my colleagues.  I’ve been trying to expose – bluntly at times – how fucked they really are if they don’t do as I’ve been suggesting.  I held my head high, knowing that I didn’t create the situation in which they find themselves so thoroughly fucked – I just did nothing to prevent it.

And even though I know better – I tried to pretend that those two things are not the same thing.

Just as a lie of omission is still a lie – to allow something to occur through inaction when I could have prevented it is the same as causing it myself.

And so.. I was Dominating nothing.  I was allowing things to happen when I could have controlled them.  The proper thing to do for me – the proper thing to do to respect my own very nature – is not to get out of the way and let bad things happen, but to control them to create the best possible outcome that I can, and I was not doing that.  So – things were falling apart, and I have been extremely unhappy to watch it unfold.

You’d think that I’d have some sort of schadenfreude inspired glee at watching things fall apart, but really it’s just made me a mess.

No more.

I don’t care who gets credit for things happening as they should – I never really have.  So – I’m going to fix it, and in so doing, fix myself.

 

The Monster Inside

Firstly, before I begin this post, I need to apologize – dear readers.

I promised that I’d be more frequent with the updates, and then life got in the way again.  Even while I was not able to keep up on the blog posts, I have always been responsive to email requests from my readers, until this past week.  I’ve received a few emails that I was not able to respond to for almost a week, and for that I apologize.  I think I’ve responded to all of those that require a response, but if you sent me something that I failed to give an adequate response to, please re-send, I think I might have lost one or two in the process.

I should also apologize for the content of this post – it’s in keeping with blogs in general, but not precisely with the tenor of this blog in particular.  This is a personal piece that has almost nothing to do with my role as Dom…

As I write this, I’m sitting in an outdoor covered patio on a beach on the Mediterranean.  It’s overcast, but warm, and while it rained a bit earlier this morning, it doesn’t seem to be threatening rain now.

You’d think that this would make me happy, but really, I’m rather discontent.  I’m far away from the one that I love, in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language, and in the company of people that seem to not like me.  It’s the sort of thing that makes one angry and pensive – at least when that someone is me.

I miss my girl.

Lately, we’ve both been stressed to the max and it’s boiled over a few times into conflict, but even when things were their worst, this remains the most solid relationship that I’ve ever had – while I still have doubts about myself, and I still wonder how I had the good fortune to find her, I no longer have any doubts about us, and that is really about the only thing that is keeping me sane today.

Anger is just below the surface, and it’s undirected and undirectable (yes, I know that isn’t a word, but you know exactly what I mean by it, so leave off) and it’s become a terrible distraction.  If my girl were here, I could do something about it, but then again, if my girl were here, I would likely not have to…

I’ve spoken about my ‘Aggressive Days‘ before, and this would seem to be quite similar, but whereas I didn’t quite grasp all of the nuance involved in bringing me to this point when I first wrote that entry, I’ve had a bit of a personal revelation since then.  I thought at that time that part of the reason that I was unable to really let myself loose and open up my Primal side was because that wasn’t really part of who I am anymore, or maybe that I was growing too old and the chemistry of my body was different enough that I didn’t feel the same things as intensely as I did, but that’s not actually true.  I think I was just with the wrong girl.  Things have taken a much better turn now… but I want to talk about the past a bit, to where these things began – I think.

When I was a teen boy, not quite a man, but thanks to an early puberty, looking every bit the part, I sort of … broke.

When I picked up the pieces that were left, I was not the same person – or rather, I was not just the same person, there was something else, something new, something that broke off from the main part of what I consider to be me.

The Monster.

One of my favorite novel series is called the Sandman Slim series, written by Richard Kadrey.  Incidentally, Mr. Kadrey is a San Francisco resident, respected fetish photographer, and at least peripherally connected to the same scene to which I am a part, but we’ve never crossed paths that I am aware.  If by some chance Mr. Kadrey or one of his acquaintances happens to be a reader of this blog, I’d very much like to buy him a beer and have a conversation.  I don’t completely relate to every aspect of his antihero protagonist Stark, but I do identify with him to an extent, and one thing that I certainly do understand is the problematic way that broken people (to apply the term loosely) like Stark, and to a lesser extent, myself, deal with other people and the world at large.  There are certainly times when I think that I belong in Hell myself, and there was a time when I was convinced that I should be, or that at the very least I should be isolated from society, so as to not cause any harm to those that I actually care for.

This is not because I like to be alone.  Sure – I need alone time, and I think everyone does, but nothing has gone so far to reinforce the point that I need people too as sitting here, surrounded by people that are in most ways alien to me.  They speak a language that sounds like nothing I can understand.  They live and move and wander around me as if I am not even here.  I sit here, surrounded by people, more alone than I have been in a long time.  I was at a grocery store yesterday to buy some basics, and I completed the entire trip, including purchasing a few sundries, without speaking a single word to anyone.

And so… here I sit.  Pensive.  Angry.  Lonely.  Longing.

And there is a part of me that is raging.  I don’t understand the things around me, and while I can still read the body language and emotional cues of the people I see, I cannot understand them, and that is making me tense.

I don’t do so well when I feel this way.

I grew up in fear.  I let myself be led astray by a man that I respected and he abused me in the worst way that he possibly could have.  I didn’t have any control over my own destiny, and when I managed to pull myself out of that particular situation, I got myself trapped in another.  I think that these things worked together to make me who I am today, and contributed to my need to control everything – including myself.  Which is why the need to channel the scared young man inside of me into physical and emotional actions.  It’s why I want to control every aspect of my life, and it’s why I want to exert control over others.

But my heart is still strong and I’m still a chivalrous man.

I’m beginning to accept and even embrace this side of me.   It’s always been something that scared me in the past.  It was a thing that scared others too.  Simone once told me that she was only in her life ever afraid of two men, her father and me, but she never told me why.  I think I know though.  I’ve always kept the monster caged, and I do again today, but he’s come out a couple of times recently, and I’ve not lost control.

There are two ways you can control a situation, and each has its place.  You can seize control.  You can force your will upon someone, and if you have enough power, you can get them to do what you want.  Or you can accept the burden of the situation.  You can allow yourself to be pulled in, and then with a strong will, you can guide the way to the resolution you desire.  This is not a manipulation, this is a sublimation.  You can give up control in order to get what you want… what you need.  These are the two sides of the D/s coin.  And they both need to be employed to make for a complete life.

In my present situation, I could attempt to seize control.  I could expend my personal power in a number of different ways and force those around me to act how I want them to.  It might even work, contextually.  I could hire an interpreter or guide.  I could only go places where I know that there are people that speak English.  I could only acknowledge the things here that are familiar.  But I choose not to.  I am immersing myself in the world here and now, and it’s quieting the monster.  I am experiencing new things and expanding my horizons, become bigger, better, stronger, more… but I do not think that I could do that by forcing the world to meet me where I am.

It has taken me a terribly long time, and perhaps in some ways my growth in this area was stunted, but I’m learning that extremes have their place, and it’s not sufficient to ride the middle line all the time.

I can let the monster loose when I need him, or when I want him, and I can still be the man I want to be.  I can let him take control when I want to, but I am always still there, watching, making sure that nothing untoward happens.

This is how I can love my girl, even as I choke her until she passes out, or slap her across the face as I fuck her.

Fuck, I miss her.

I’ll be back with her in a week.

I can hardly wait, but I know I am strong enough to manage it.

one Dom's views on life, love, and limerence